Public satisfaction with GP services is at its lowest since official records began in 1983 with patients labelling staff shortages, government reforms, lack of funding, and long waiting times as the main reasons for rising dissatisfaction.
The figures come from NatCen’s annual British Social Attitudes (BSA) study analysed by the King’s Fund and Nuffield Trust, which also found that younger people were significantly more dissatisfied than older people with the health service.
In terms of GP services specifically, figures show that public satisfaction has dropped by 7pp to 65%, the lowest since the survey first began in 1983.
The results are not surprising given the pressures on general practices caused by a range of factors including increases in patient demand, an increasing number of patients with multiple chronic conditions and complex needs, and a growing number of treatments available.
The situation is also exacerbated by a workforce crisis: more GPs and other primary care staff are needed, but GP numbers at the end of 2017 were lower than in 2015.
Here in Wirral, like the rest of the country, we are on a program of house building, which we desperately need, but this will add to the population of local areas. This also puts added pressure on GP surgeries as there is no limit to the amount of patients allowed on a GP practice patient list, and given the lack of GP’s and also the lack of physical rooms in the surgeries to accommodate new ones if found, it can only lead to longer and longer waiting times for appointments. This is also one of the reasons we need the Walk-in Centre in Eastham back up and running to its fullest extent.
Contrary to a wide spread belief that GP’s are run by the NHS, they are actually private businesses that are paid for each patient on their books.
It is believed that the NHS has reached a watershed moment, because despite the best efforts of trusts and front line staff, it can no longer meet the standards of care set out in its constitution with the resources available, which is why Norman Lamb’s proposal of 1 penny in the pound on income tax, ring fenced for the NHS, is in my opinion a bloody good idea.